Things We Would Do Differently when Learning to Fulltime

A NuRVers member recently posted this question in the Discussion Forums:

Hi all, I am hoping to be on the road by April. I am wondering what you “old timers” would do differently if you were just starting out?

While we don’t like to “should” all over ourselves, through the four years we’ve been on the road we’ve learned that there are some things we might have done differently when starting out.

1. Sign up for Passport America.

We hardly spend time or money at RV parks, but this club has saved our necks and our wallets several times. Nearly all camping membership clubs suck, but not Passport.

There are tons of participating RV parks, most without tight restrictions, and they cost half of what they normally would, some as little as $7 a night for full hookups!

Our first year out we spent far too much money paying full price for RV park stays. Now, I wouldn’t travel even halftime without a PA membership.

2. Join Escapees, become Texans and use their mail forwarding service.

It took us two years to figure out that the services you get from Escapees can’t be beat. Our first year out we had a family member do our mail for us (they volunteered). But it was a hassle for them, and we felt the weight of obligation after we knew this sabbatical was turning into a lifestyle.

We also would have saved a ton on our residency / vehicle fees had we turned Texan sooner.

3. Invest in a bigger solar system.

We started out knowing we would boondock, but we didn’t realize the extent of it, nor how much it could save us. Our system was adequate for a long-term vacation but not for making a living with.

We’ve slowly upgraded, but when we had the money four years ago we should’ve started out with a bigger system.

Boondocking gets us closer to our “real” camping roots as backpackers, by allowing us to get as far away from civilization as possible, without having to dig a craphole.

4. Travel without debt.

When we started out, we had not paid off our rig, even though we had the money in savings. I hated knowing that we had real bills to pay and no real income, but I didn’t want to see that pile go away.

Then we met a debt-free home-schoolin’ Christian family, and jumped on the Dave Ramsey bandwagon they riding. We paid off all of our debt and vowed to never take it on again.

For the first time in our lives, we truly felt the meaning of “freedom.” Living a with debt, much less fulltiming with a sporadic income and debt, is a big drag on happiness…at least to us it is.

That’s about all of the “should haves” we can think of. Remember, researching your road tripping lifestyle is key to long term success, and planning how you’ll be comfortable is critical. Don’t hit the road without doing either.

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8 Responses to “Things We Would Do Differently when Learning to Fulltime”

  1. Hey Rene, I might have to pick your brain later this year if a plan being put together gets put into action. Love these kind of posts, thanks! 🙂

    • Rock on David! That’s awesome, I can’t wait to hear about it. Whatever I can do to make that dream happen, just write.

      Thanks for the feedback about the post. I really want to make this blog more useful for road trippers and less of a travel memoir. Stay tuned!

  2. Our take on “what we would have done differently”:
    – The first thing we would’ve done different is buy a SMALLER rig. I know this sounds wierd, but as we’ve travelled around we’ve become lovers of more (and more) remote spots and our 40-footer sometimes limits us. A smaller rig would make us more mobile to go into “off-beat” locations
    – The second thing we would do is not sign up for a bunch of camping memberships. I agree w/ you that PA is really the “only one”. We signed up for Good Sam’s and a few others when we started out….have almost never used them. PA is the only one worth it.
    And I agree on the Solar…we just installed it last month and went for the biggest size we could. Love it!
    Nina

  3. Hey Jim, thanks so much for these wish-you-would-have-knowns. As Rene knows I am looking at rearraning my life a bit in the future and this are some great things to know about. I finished the Four Hour Workweek too….awesome food for thought. All of this makes me really excited about the future and a new way to live. Thanks for being inspiring!

    • Hey Hey, I wrote that! 😉
      I wrote it more from the perspective of an RVer but maybe I’ll write another one from the perspective of anyone who wants to take a sabbatical.

      Keep up the good work, you’re almost there!! xoxo

  4. This is the type of post I love from your blog. We’re hoping to be on the road by June and to do a lot of boondocking and we are sponges for practical useful information. Thanks.
    One followup question. As tech professionals, how much solar capacity would you recommend to allow you to work. We’d love to avoid running a generator as much as possible.

    Thanks.

    • Thanks for asking Henry! The required “capacity” of your system depends on how much energy you use, and how much you’re willing to conserve.

      In full working mode, throughout the day, we need to charge two laptops every few hours and power a router, Hughes modem, and network drive. Conservation includes turning on the NAS only when we need it, and working with battery powered lamps at night.

      While we have upgraded out input capacity (2 panels now) we currently still use two 12v batteries. Our next upgrade will be to boost our battery bank to at least four deep cycle 6v batteries. This will allow us to store much more of the energy we’re making on good days that currently getting wasted…

      But then, I’d want another panel, which would benefit us best with another two batteries! It’s kinda like chips and salsa, you always want more of one or the other! Hope this helps. Stay tuned for more technical posts, I promise.

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